Nine state players picked on final day of NFL draft

Three underclassmen are picked Saturday while NC State sets a school record with seven players selected

UNC linebacker Andre Smith (10) makes a tackle during last year's season opener against Cal, one of only two games he played (Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports)

It’s something of a gamble when an underclassman leaves school early to enter the NFL Draft, especially for those players not projected to go in the first few rounds.

But its a gamble that paid off for three state players Saturday.

NC State’s Nyheim Hines and Will Richardson, and North Carolina’s Andre Smith all heard their names called on the final day of the draft.

Hines, a junior running back, was taken by the Indianapolis Colts early in the fourth round while junior offensive tackle Richardson went later in the same round to the Jacksonville Jaguars to help the Wolfpack set a school record with seven players picked.

Their selections weren’t a surprise.

Smith, however, was anything but a sure thing after missing all but the first two games of his junior season with a knee injury. The Tar Heel linebacker, who showed he’s healthy again by running a 4.63 40-yard dash, was taken in the seventh and final round by the Carolina Panthers.

He was one of two former UNC players to be picked in seventh round after missing a majority of their final college seasons with injuries. Wide receiver Austin Proehl was the next-to-last player selected when he was taken by the Buffalo Bills.

In all, nine players with North Carolina ties were drafted during the fourth, five, sixth and seventh rounds Saturday.

Kentavius Street, despite undergoing knee surgery that will likely sideline him in 2018, became the fourth member of State’s defensive line to get the call when he was taken by the San Francisco 49ers between Hines and Richardson in the fourth round. Their former teammate Jaylen Samuels, who is listed as a tight end, went to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fifth round.

Wake Forest defensive end Duke Ejiofor was the sixth-round pick of the Houston Texans while a pair of FCS players — Appalachian State offensive lineman Colby Gossett (Minnesota Vikings) and Western Carolina defensive back Keion Crossen (New England Patriots) — were seventh round selections.

Raleigh native Braxton Berrios, who played his college ball at Miami, was a sixth-round selection of the Patriots.

Although the three-day draft was a rousing success for NC State, with defensive end Bradley Chubb going in the first round as the No. 5 overall pick to the Denver Broncos, and defensive tackles B.J. Hill and Justin Jones taken in the third round by the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers, respectively, not everything fell just right for the Wolfpack.

Offensive guard Tony Adams ended up going undrafted. He did, however, sign as an undrafted free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars shortly after the final pick was made.

Here is the rundown of all the players with state ties that were drafted:

Round 1: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State (Broncos); Jaire Alexander, CB, Charlotte/Louisville (Packers); Mike Hughes, CB, New Bern/UCF (Vikings)

 Round 2: M.J. Stewart, CB, UNC (Buccaneers); Jessie Bates, S, Wake Forest (Bengals)

Round 3: Brandon Parker, OT, NC A&T (Raiders); B.J. Hill, DT, NC State (Giants); Justin Jones, DT, NC State (Chargers)

Round 4: Nyheim Hines, RB, NC State (Colts); Kentavius Street, DE, NC State (49ers); Will Richardson, OT, NC State (Jaguars)

Round 5: Jaylen Samuels, TE, NC State (Steelers)

Round 6: Duke Ejiofor, DE, Wake Forest (Texans); Colby Gossett, OT, Appalachian State (Vikings)

Round 7: Andre Smith, LB, UNC (Panthers); Keion Crossen, CB, Western Carolina (Patriots); Austin Proehl, WR, UNC (Bills)